Is Pizza Italian? Learn The Story Behind Its Origin and 30 Global Variations

Is pizza Italian? How exactly did it become the world’s favorite dish? Dive into the delicious history, plus explore 30 global twists on the classic pie!

Pizza’s Italian Roots

What could be more Italian!  A pizza meal and salad on one of the canals of Venice.

Ever wonder about the historic origin of your favorite cheesy slice? The tale is as rich as the dish itself, tracing back to Naples, Italy. 

Originally, pizza was just flatbread adorned with tomatoes, cheese, and a few herbs. This unassuming dish quickly captured the hearts (and stomachs) of the Neapolitan public.

Around the 16th or 17th century, pizza made the big move to become what we know today. So remember this rich history the next time you dig in.

NYC’s Big Slice

An overhead view of a simple slice of New York City style cheese pizza on a white paper plate

NY-style pizza is known worldwide for its unique flavor and sheer size. There’s nothing like a big, thin and foldable slice of New York City pizza.

The magic of NY-style pizza lies not just in its size, but in its simplicity. It’s a perfect balance of crispy crust, tangy sauce, and gooey cheese.

Navigating the bustling streets of New York in search of the quintessential slice is an adventure in itself. Each pizzeria claims to have the best!

Chicago Deep-Dish

Chicago Style Deep Dish Cheese Pizza with Tomato Sauce

So what’s the origin of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza? This culinary masterpiece was born in the Windy City, serving as a hearty twist on traditional Italian pizza.

When biting into a slice of deep-dish, you’re diving into layers of gooey cheese, rich tomato sauce, and a variety of toppings, all in a buttery crust.

As the story goes, this style was conceived out of a desire to give pizza a unique American twist. Today, it’s a testament to Chicago’s bold spirit.

Tokyo’s Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki Japanese pizza

Want a true twist on a classic pizza? Tokyo’s take on the classic okonomiyaki might just be the city’s best-kept secret, and it’s a fascinating take on pizza.

This savory pancake is a delightful mishmash of ingredients, proving that unconventional can indeed be delicious. We love a quirky pizza with a little personality.

Originating from post-war Japan as a way to stretch limited ingredients, this dish has evolved into a customizable feast. It’s pizza with a unique Tokyo flavor.

Greek Pita Pizza

Greek pita pizza

Greek pita pizza might not trace back to Italy, but it’s a delicious twist on the classic, infusing Mediterranean flavors into every bite. It’s a truly flavorful feast.

This pizza combines the softness of traditional pita bread with the robust flavors of Greece. It’s proof of the versatility of pizza itself.

This pizza was born from the Greek tradition of quick, flavorful meals. Tangy feta, fresh tomatoes, and the punch of olives, all resting on a crispy pita.

São Paulo’s Portuguesa

Portuguesa pizza from São Paulo

What about São Paulo’s famous Portuguesa pizza? This culinary masterpiece is a testament to Brazil’s melting pot of cultures. It’s packed with vibrant, diverse ingredients.

This delightful dish can include a mix of ham, onions, hard-boiled eggs, mozzarella, and sometimes even green peas. The mix of flavors reflects Brazil’s eclectic and bold taste.

So next time you’re in São Paulo, or even at your local Brazilian eatery, asking for a slice of Portuguesa pizza is a must. Thank us later.

New Delhi’s Paneer Pizza

Pan Pizza freshly baked with lot of cheese and vegetable and paneer

When the worlds of Italian mastery and Indian zest collide, you get New Delhi’s paneer pizza. It’s a spicy, vegetarian twist to the traditional pie.

Imagine the smooth, creamy texture of paneer, spiced to perfection with traditional Indian herbs. Then put all of that on top of a crispy pizza base.

Each slice of paneer pizza is a journey through flavors and cultures. Spicy, satisfying, and vegetarian-friendly, it’s a must-try for any food enthusiast.

Seoul’s Kimchi Pizza

pizza pie with kimchi, cheese and pork on wooden table.

Up next: Seoul’s culinary innovation, the Kimchi pizza. It’s a fusion that takes the vibrant flavors of Korea and marries them with the comfort of Italian dough.

Spicy, tangy, and utterly bold, this pizza is a flavor journey! The Kimchi pizza came to life in the bustling streets of Seoul, where traditional meets modern.

It’s not just about the spicy kick of kimchi or the melted cheese. It’s a celebration of innovation and flavor harmony that’s making waves far beyond Seoul.

Aussie Barbecue Pizza

Sliced pizza with chicken, bacon and sauce. On black rustic background

The Aussie barbecue pizza is a snapshot of Australia’s love of the grill. It beautifully infuses traditional pizza with smoky, hearty flavors—a perfect culinary combo.

What really sets the Aussie barbecue pizza apart is its unique toppings. It often features a mix of grilled meats, onions, and the signature barbecue sauce.

This pizza isn’t just a pizza. It’s a celebration of Australian ingenuity and community spirit. Plus, of course, their love for a good barbecue.

Mexican Taco Pizza

Taco pizza Mexican style

Ever tried the masterpiece on a crust known as a Mexican taco pizza? It’s where the zesty flavors of tacos meet the comforting embrace of a pizza base.

The Mexican taco pizza is like a culinary adventure that takes your taste buds on a trip to Mexico, without leaving your dining table.

A good Mexican taco pizza includes a mix of flavors, from the spicy kick of jalapeños to the hearty touch of seasoned ground meat, all resting on a bed of cheesy goodness.

French Flammekueche

Flammkuchen or tarte flambee with cream cheese, bacon, tomato and onions. Black background. Top view.

Tucked away in the charming region of Alsace is the French Flammekueche pizza. Thin, crispy, and utterly delightful, this dish is the peak of simple elegance.

Unlike its Italian cousin, the Flammekueche, also known as tarte flambée, uses its doughy base as a canvas for ingredients like crème fraîche, onions, and lardons.

This culinary masterpiece brings together the robust flavors of the region in every bite. Every slice is a journey through Alsace’s culinary landscape, blending tradition with simplicity.

Cairo’s Shawarma Pizza

Shawarma pizza from Cairo

Cairo’s shawarma pizza might not trace back to the very beginning of pizza history, but it’s a fascinating twist on the tale. So what makes it different?

In the heart of Cairo, chefs have been getting creative, giving the classic pizza a makeover that pays homage to local tastes. And the result is amazing.

A harmonious mix of shawarma and pizza that’s as mouthwatering as it sounds. Spiced meat, fresh veggies, and a drizzle of tahini sauce on a crispy crust.

Jamaican Jerk Pizza

Jamaican Jerk pizza

Meet the Jamaican jerk pizza, a culinary adventure that marries smoky, spicy jerk seasoning with the universally loved flavor delivery vehicle known as pizza.

What makes the Jamaican Jerk Pizza truly stand out is its unique combination of ingredients. From the specially seasoned meat to the fresh, tropical toppings.

It’s a spicy, smoky treat that captures the island’s fiery spirit, making it a must-try for anyone who loves to explore global cuisines.

Swedish Banana Curry Pizza

Swedish Banana Curry pizza

This unique dish is a testament to Sweden’s innovative culinary scene, marrying the sweetness of bananas with the warmth of curry in a delightfully surprising way.

Although banana curry pizza may sound like an odd combination at first, it’s a beloved classic in Sweden. This culinary curiosity showcases the benefits of experimenting with food.

If you’re a food adventurer looking for the next unique taste sensation, this is a must-try. Its peculiar blend of sweet and spicy flavors tells a fascinating story.

Russian Mockba Pizza

Russian Mockba pizza

This unique creation is a seafood lover’s dream, topped with sardines, tuna, mackerel, and salmon. It takes your taste buds on a journey to the heart of Russia.

Unlike its hot and cheesy Italian cousin, Mockba Pizza is traditionally served cold. It’s a refreshing twist on the classic dish that we can get behind.

This peculiar serving method adds a whole new dimension to pizza, making it a must-try for those seeking a meal that breaks the mold.

Canadian Poutine Pizza

Top view of cheese pizza topped with poutine

Who would have thought that merging two iconic Canadian dishes would result in the heavenly creation known as poutine pizza? Honestly, we’re not too surprised.

Imagine the warm, comforting embrace of cheese curds and gravy, nestled atop a golden pizza crust. It’s comfort food redefined. We want a slice, like now.

Poutine pizza is a dish that truly embodies the spirit of Canadian cuisine, showcasing the country’s penchant for hearty, soul-warming food. Sounds absolutely delicious.

Detroit Crunch

close up of detroit style pepperoni pizza

If you haven’t had the pleasure of biting into a Detroit-style pizza, you’re missing out on a world where crust is king. Can you say “crispy”?

Detroit-style pizza stands out not just for its rectangular shape but for the cheese that edges its way into the corners. It’s a crunch that’s utterly addictive.

The secret behind that covetable crunch? It’s all in the pan. This pizza was traditionally baked in rectangular steel pans originally used for automotive parts.

Hawaiian Fusion

Hawaiian pizza with ham and pineapple cut into slices, cheese pull

Did you know the Hawaiian pizza, a fusion of sweet pineapple and savory ham, actually hails from Canada? That’s right, this tropical twist comes from the north.

The Hawaiian pizza with ham and pineapple was invented by Greek immigrant Sam Panopoulos in 1962. And it’s been the topic of heated debates ever since.

Love it or hate it, Hawaiian pizza has carved out its niche in the pizza world. It’s only for those who dare to mix savory and sweet.

Sicilian Thick

Sfincione typical oven-baked focaccia very soft and seasoned with tomato, onion, anchovies, cheese, oregano and bread crumbs closeup on the wooden board on the table. Horizontal

Sicilian pizza, or ‘sfincione’, feels like a warm hug in every bite. It’s all thanks to its spongy, thick crust that perfectly balances the rich toppings.

Imagine a layer of tangy tomato sauce, a sprinkle of aromatic onions, and the salty flavor of anchovies. And it’s all resting on a pillowy, doughy base.

That’s the essence of Sicilian thick pizza for you. Every slice is a testament to this island’s love affair with bold flavors and hearty eating.

California Pizza

California pizza pie

Imagine biting into a slice where BBQ chicken meets tangy sauce, or where smoked salmon finds its home atop a creamy base. It’s innovation at its finest.

In the Golden State, pizzas aren’t just food; they’re expressions of culinary artistry. From the zesty zing of artichoke hearts to the rich, savory embrace of goat cheese.

These pies are a testament to the fearless flavor combinations that Californians adore. It’s a place where the unexpected becomes the unforgettable and utterly delectable.

Aussie Egg-Topped Pizza

Top view of pizza with bacon, egg and red pepper

Imagine biting into a warm slice of pizza, and you hit the jackpot—a perfectly cooked egg right in the center. That’s this Aussie take on pizza.

This isn’t just about adding an egg for the sake of novelty. The egg on an Australian pizza creates a unique texture and depth of flavor.

Next time you’re pondering pizza options, why not go Down Under? The Aussie egg-topped pizza is a brilliant example of a culinary transformation.

Indian Spice Pizza

Butter Chicken Cheese Pizza with extra chicken Toppings

Imagine biting into a slice of pizza that whisks you away to the bustling streets of Delhi. Indian pizza blends warm, aromatic spices with comforting, cheesy goodness.

Not just a treat for your taste buds, Indian pizza is a feast for the eyes. Turmeric, paprika, and coriander sprinkle life onto the dough.

From smoky garam masala to the tangy kick of pickled ginger, it’s a gastronomic adventure that’s just a slice away. Try it, if you have the chance.

Brazilian Hearts of Palm

palm heart and cream cheese Pizza. Top view on wood background, close up.

Brazil’s hearts of palm pizza takes you on a culinary adventure with this unique topping you don’t often find. It makes every bite a delightful surprise.

Not just any topping, the heart of palm brings a touch of Brazilian flair to a pizza. This ingredient is cherished for its versatility and hint of sweetness.

From the streets of São Paulo to the beaches of Rio, hearts of palm pizza has become a beloved treat among locals and tourists alike.

Korean Bulgogi

Korean Bulgogi Pizza

Bulgogi, a beloved Korean beef dish, finds its way onto pizza with this unique twist on the classic. It’s a culinary masterpiece that’s hard to resist.

The marinated beef on this pizza isn’t just any old topping; it’s a flavor bomb that elevates the dish with its juicy and tender goodness.

A combination of soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and sesame oil infuses the beef with an irresistible taste. It harmonizes beautifully with the melted cheese.

Turkish Lahmacun

Turkish Lahmacun

Ever heard of Turkish Lahmacun? It’s what happens when crispy, thin dough meets a spicy ensemble of minced meat and veggies.

What sets Turkish Lahmacun apart is its whole dining experience. Traditionally, you’d grab a slice, squeeze a bit of lemon over it, roll it up, and dive in.

Making Turkish Lahmacun at home might sound like a culinary expedition, but it’s surprisingly doable. The secret lies in getting the thin, crispy base just right.

Lebanese Manakish

Manakeesh, arabic pizza, flat bread topped with zaatar spices close up.

Often enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack, this Lebanese take on pizza is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the region. And it’s super tasty.

This unique dish brings together the zesty flavors of the Middle East, such as za’atar. It makes for a culinary experience that’s both comforting and exotic.

Not just limited to za’atar, Manakish can be a canvas for a variety of toppings. From the creamy richness of cheese to the savory punch of minced meat.

Portuguese Francesinha

Portuguese Francesinha Sandwich, Oporto Traditional Cuisine

Picture a dish where every bite is a meaty surprise, and you’ve got the Portuguese Francesinha. This isn’t just any pizza; it’s a carnivore’s dream on a doughy canvas.

This masterpiece is layered with ham, sausage, and steak, all hidden under a rich blanket of tomato and beer sauce. Yes, you read that right: tomato and beer.

This pizza takes the concept of “meat lover’s” to a whole new level. The combination of savory meats with the tang of tomato and beer sauce is truly unique.

Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet

Feteer meshaltet is flaky layered pastry. It consists of many thin layers of dough and ghee. Served with black and white honey, tahini , cream, jam and cheese.

Whether you’re craving something sweet or in the mood for a savory treat, this Egyptian version of a stuffed pizza has you covered. It’s a customizable delight.

Crafting feteer meshaltet is an art. It involves layering dough, lovingly buttered and folded to create its signature flakiness. Each bite transports you to the bustling streets of Cairo.

The possibilities of this dish are endless. From sugary delights to hearty meat and veggie combos, it’s a testament to the versatility and creativity of Egyptian cuisine.

Argentinian Fugazza

Fugazzeta Argentinian deep dish pizza stuffed with mozzarella cheese and topped with parmesan cheese and toasted onions closeup in the plate on the wooden table. Horizontal

Imagine biting into a slice of heaven where the sweet, caramelized onions meet a pillowy thick crust. That’s Argentinian fugazza for you. It’s all about the onions.

Argentinian fugazza transforms onions from a mere topping into the star of the show. It’s a bold testament to the magic of simple ingredients.

Fugazza is an excellent starting point for those looking to explore the world of Argentinian cuisine. It’s a dish that beautifully represents Argentina’s rich culinary heritage.

Spanish Coca

Coca of roasted red peppers. Traditional recipe from the island of Mallorca.

Ever bitten into a slice of Spanish coca? It’s like meeting the rebellious cousin of the classic pizza, boasting a thin, crunchy crust and the freshest toppings.

Try the sweet and savory contrast of figs and serrano ham in the Balearics, or the hearty mix of tuna, peppers, and onions in Catalonia.

What truly sets Spanish coca apart is its versatility. Each region in Spain adds its unique twist, making every bite a delightful surprise.

Turkish Pide

Assorted Turkish foodset: pide with meat , pide with cheese, pide mix, lachmajun

Just when you think you’ve tried all of the varieties of pizza out there, Turkish pide enters the scene. This boat-shaped pizza dates back centuries.

It’s packed full of spiced meats, melty cheese, and veggies, all in a fluffy, golden crust. It’s the ultimate comfort food, born in the hearths of Anatolia.

Whether you’re into a classic sucuk (spicy sausage) and egg or a veggie delight, Pide’s got you covered. It’s not just food; it’s history served hot and fresh.

Thai Pizza

Pizza, Shrimp Fried Rice and Papaya Thai Street Food on Wood Table.

Thai pizza is where the zest of Thai cuisine meets the beloved classic pizza in a flavor-packed collision. And just like that, a star was born.

This culinary masterpiece emerged from the adventurous spirit of fusion cooking. It’s all about bold flavors and vibrant toppings, making every bite a lively experience.

While there are different variations on a Thai pizza, you can often find it flavored with peanut sauce or sweet chili sauce, wich chicken, veggies, and lime.

Conclusion

So, is pizza Italian? Absolutely, but it’s clear that this beloved dish has transcended borders, becoming a global sensation with endless variations and unique flavors.

From the classic Neapolitan slice to the adventurous Japanese Okonomiyaki-inspired version, pizza has proven itself to be a versatile canvas for diverse and delicious flavors worldwide.

Next time you bite into your favorite slice, remember the global journey pizza has taken to be on your plate, and the many forms it takes.

FAQs

Question: What is the origin of pizza?

Answer: Pizza originated in Naples, Italy, as a humble meal for the working class, made from simple, fresh ingredients.

Question: What defines NY-style pizza?

Answer: NY-style pizza is known for its thin, large slices that are easily foldable, featuring a perfect balance of crispy crust, tangy sauce, and gooey cheese.

Question: What makes Chicago deep-dish pizza unique?

Answer: Chicago deep-dish pizza is characterized by its thick, buttery crust filled with gooey cheese, rich tomato sauce, and a variety of toppings, embodying the bold spirit of Chicago.

Question: What is Okonomiyaki and how does it relate to pizza?

Answer: Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake that represents Tokyo’s unique take on pizza, showcasing culinary creativity with a blend of unconventional ingredients.

Question: How does Greek pita pizza differ from traditional pizza?

Answer: Greek pita pizza uses traditional pita bread as the base, topped with Mediterranean flavors like feta, tomatoes, and olives, offering a delicious twist on classic pizza.

Question: What are the key ingredients of São Paulo’s Portuguesa pizza?

Answer: The Portuguesa pizza from São Paulo features ham, onions, hard-boiled eggs, mozzarella, and sometimes green peas, reflecting Brazil’s diverse culinary influences.

Question: What characterizes New Delhi’s paneer pizza?

Answer: New Delhi’s paneer pizza combines traditional Indian spices and paneer cheese with a crispy pizza base for a vegetarian-friendly, spicy twist on the traditional pie.

Question: What is unique about Seoul’s kimchi pizza?

Answer: Seoul’s kimchi pizza is a fusion dish that combines spicy, tangy Korean kimchi with the comfort of Italian pizza dough, offering a bold flavor journey.

Question: What makes the Aussie barbecue pizza distinct?

Answer: The Aussie barbecue pizza features a mix of grilled meats, onions, and signature barbecue sauce, embodying Australia’s love for the grill on a pizza base.

Question: What fusion does the Mexican taco pizza offer?

Answer: The Mexican taco pizza blends the zesty flavors of tacos with the comforting structure of pizza, creating a delightful fusion that mirrors Mexico’s rich cultural tapestry.

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